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Award-Winning Fiber Technology from Chemnitz

inca-fiber, one of the youngest startups at Chemnitz University, has received several awards in Germany and abroad

In the first quarter of 2018, “inca-fiber”, a startup founded at Chemnitz University of Technology, received multiple awards for their innovation. In late February, the young company won the Leipziger Galvanopreis, granted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Galvano- und Oberflächentechnik – DGO (German Association for Electroplating and Surface Technology). The award recognized the successful transition of university research projects to the industrial sector. In early March, two additional prizes were awarded: at JEC World 2018, the leading international trade show focused on the composites industry, the scientists from Chemnitz took home the Startup Booster Award. “From all 85 written submissions, ten finalists were chosen and invited to attend the trade show. That includes entries from elite universities in the USA and Japan,” reports Dr. Falko Böttger-Hiller, graduate of Chemnitz University and one of the two directors of inca-fiber GmbH. At the event, each startup had five minutes to pitch their concept to the jury. Three finalists were awarded prizes, inca-fiber GmbH among them. Additionally, the Chemnitz-based company also won the Startup Booster Public Choice Award after receiving 62 percent of all 2,221 votes cast in an online survey.

High Tech Fibers for Smart Mass-Production

Chemnitz University’s “inca-fiber” startup has successfully revolutionized the process of copper-plating carbon fibers for industrial applications. Due to the very even copper-plating achieved by an automated galvanizing process, the carbon fibers’ range of properties is significantly enhanced and therefore provides advantages for electromagnetic shielding, lightning protection, thermal and electrical conductivity as well as bonding in hybrid materials. The positive results achieved in laboratory trials have been used to create a specially designed, semi-industrial pilot production line. The manufacturing equipment is capable of producing approximately 700 kilograms of carbon fibers each year. This quantity is sufficient to provide potential customers with metallized carbon fibers to be integrated into their process chain for application in research and development projects.

Funding Pays Off

“inca-fiber” stands for “innovative carbon fiber”. The company is under the direction of two Chemnitz University graduates, Dr. Falko Böttger-Hiller and Toni Böttger. In its early stages, the team also received key supervision from Professors Thomas Lampke, Bernhard Wielage and Uwe Götze. Additional support comes from the SAXEED startup network and Ideentransfer GmbH. The EXIST Transfer of Research Project inca-fiber was developed in the TranS-Ver junior research group at Chemnitz University, which was funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Free State of Saxony from 2011 through 2014. inca-fiber GmbH’s activities are interlinked with the research projects conducted by the Chair of Materials and Surface Engineering and the Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE. Since its founding in 2016, the company has also received additional distinctions. Following the “Schicke Ideen” prize from SAXEED, inca-fiber was awarded the Metropolitan Region Central Germany IQ Innovationspreis in 2017. “All of these awards have helped us to successfully establish networks and to generate new commissions,” says Böttger-Hiller, pleased with the company’s progress. Cooperation with the university has also been key to the success they have enjoyed so far, according to Böttger-Hiller.  He explains, “inca-fiber would not have been able to thrive so well without the foundation established by the university’s Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, reinforced within the junior research group team and now further implemented as a company with the support of Professor Lampke and the university environment.”

Successful Founding at Chemnitz University

Chemnitz University of Technology offers excellent conditions for company founders. The current edition of the Gründungsradar (Founding Radar) published by the Stifterverband recently confirmed that the university has a particular strength in founding. According to the report, Chemnitz University is ranked first among state universities in Saxony and is among the top ten nationwide.

Contact: Dr. Falko Böttger-Hiller, Tel.: +49 371 531-37581, E-Mail: falko.boettger-hiller@mb.tu-chemnitz.de

Matthias Fejes
13.03.2018

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